By Andy Schwen

Progression of technology in education

Throughout my teaching career I have gravitated toward using technology to further my instruction for students outside the classroom walls. This began with developing my classroom website and progressed toward video resources for excerpts of lessons I found myself repeating often for students in the learning process.

I create videos for my class using an interactive whiteboard and a free web-based recording tool called screenr. After recording, the video is published online and can be published to YouTube with one click.

Using technology to promote learning

I have struggled with trying to make video more interactive for students, trying things such as to suggest notetaking, repeating the video or asking questions and giving the answer shortly after within the video. These techniques are all shadows of effective instruction that can occur through person-to-person interaction in a classroom.

Lately, largely influenced by educators such as Dan Meyer and Ramsey Musallam, I have gone away from introducing new content through video and am now using it more as a review tool to formalize what has taken place in class through student-led investigation.

Interactive video made easy with teachem

The tool teachem has been a great companion in the transition of my classroom to this model. (Click here to see an example) While it will never replace the rich dialog of classroom activities, the experience away from my classroom becomes more interactive for students.
Using teachem, I am able to:

  1. Embed questions as “notecards” alongside my videos with revealable answers.
  2. Create questions where students can “flip” the card–giving them their own amount of time to think through the question.
  3. Highlight important ideas in the video that can also serve as bookmarks for students to find what they’re looking for if they need to see a specific part again.

Vision and development of teachem

I spoke with teachem founder, David Schnurman, about his product and was very impressed by his overall vision of wanting to “make education better” for his kids that will be going through the system. He stated that many learning platforms almost require teachers to become expert users before the features are able to be used. With teachem he wanted a product for teachers and students that was very simple to use.

Through recent feature updates, it is clear that teachem truly wants to become a product that teachers need and want to use as the learning environment becomes more blended. Some recent notable improvements include the ability to add collaborating teachers to schools, various school visibility settings, note taking capability for students and an email the teacher option.

Moving forward

Video is most likely not going away as technology further permeates our lives. I would even expect that there is room for it to become a larger part of our daily lives as we learn, work and play. Tools like teachem take us a step forward in allowing access to a simple tool that creates a less-passive video experience for the viewer. I am excited to see what the future has for education and the part teachem is likely to play in interactive video learning.


Andy Schwen has taught math since 2003 in Blaine, Minnesota. He is also building math department leader. Through his blog, mrschwen.blogspot.com, he shares technology tools and instructional reflections from his classroom on a regular basis. He has created and shared Google Forms tools such as a visual assessment dashboard and a student response system. He has presented on related topics at local and national educator conferences and workshops. You can find him on twitter as @mrschwen.

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